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The spectacle of mental health in the public eye as seen on ITV’s Loose Women

I don’t watch live TV, I don’t have time (thanks a bunch, kids).
But the allure of the tweets trending on Twitter was irresistible so I watched with horror as a group of 5 grown women hurled insults at each other.
The Loose Women show on 29th August 2018 had the opportunity to make a serious point about the benefits of counselling and mediation. A professional could have been brought in to sensitively handle the volatile relationship between Coleen Nolan and Kim Woodburn but instead the producers set up one of Coleen’s friends in ‘judgement’ so the bias was there from the start.

Kim did not go into this charade with blinkers on. She took the money for appearing and knew what she was agreeing to do but surely she discussed it with a friend or agent and they should have dissuaded her…
The Loose Women had dealt with the delicate issue of self harm in the first segment of the show, setting up their credentials as caring people. They then swooped on Kim, quite rightly defending their friend and sister Coleen. But Kim had no one to defend her except herself.
No one came out of this debacle well. Not Kim, not Coleen, not the other Loose Women, not the producers, not the channel and not the audience. Yes, that includes me.
This spectacle was allowed to go ahead because it counts as entertainment. Yet at the root of it was mental health for the public’s amusement.
Kim has been open about her history and mental health. Coleen’s life has been splashed over the media. Their spats on Celebrity Big Brother and subsequent shows make headlines and good TV which is why the item went ahead on the show this week. But both women have sadness in their lives which underpins their behaviour.

We think that we are a civilised society, miles ahead of the people that used to visit Bedlam in days gone by to stare at the inmates (patients!) but now the show has been brought into our own living rooms.
Mental health still has stigma attached to it. Yet I believe that every person will experience mental health issues at some point in their life whether it is depression, anxiety, eating disorders or any other. Self doubt, lack of confidence and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy will affect every person during their lifetime whether they choose to admit it or not…
Kindness costs nothing. No one knows what someone else is going through so it was irresponsible of Loose Women to host Kim and Coleen’s feud in this way.

But then there is the aftermath, the furore in the media and across social media. Coleen’s son tweeted to call Kim a derogatory word based on his perception of her mental condition. Others have jumped in on both sides to pass judgement when really we should look at ourselves.
This show would not have gone ahead if we as an audience were not willing to watch it. I feel ashamed for being nosey and wanting to know what was going on but am glad that there are reports of hundreds of complaints to Ofcom.
It is time we all took repsonsibility for making mental health a serious issue without stigma rather than an indulgence for the masses’ enjoyment.

1 comment

  1. These sort of shows have a lot to answer too but tv is all about shock nowadays personally I would never watch loose women they try to deal with issues that they are qualified to do stick to more mundane issues but then it would of course be boring tv Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

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